Veterans and Military Families
Our nation has a duty to support those who have risked their lives for our security and freedom. Many of our veterans, military members, and military families are facing a series of challenges that we must work harder to address. Senator Van Hollen believes it is our responsibility as Americans to deliver on the promise we’ve made to support our men and women in uniform both during their time of service and after they return to civilian life, and he is committed to honoring that pledge.
Senator Van Hollen has been an advocate for our veterans throughout his time in public service. After Walter Reed Army Medical Center was relocated to Maryland in 2011, then-Congressman Van Hollen led the charge to secure infrastructure funding to ensure that veterans and their families could easily access the facility. Working in partnership with veterans and industry leaders, Van Hollen teamed up with the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce to launch the nationwide Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) to help veteran-owned small businesses access government contracting opportunities.
Today, Senator Van Hollen remains deeply committed to ensuring that our veterans have access to the very best support a grateful nation can provide. That starts with health care. Senator Van Hollen has fought to open new Community-Based Outpatient Clinics in Gaithersburg and Lexington Park and a replacement facility at Charlotte Hall, and he remains dedicated to ensuring that the needs of all of our Maryland and Capitol Region VA Medical Centers are met. In addition, he was a proud cosponsor of the Deborah Sampson Act to ensure women veterans can access the quality health care and benefits they need. That bipartisan bill became law in 2017 and is now delivering new resources and services to VA health facilities across the country.
In addition, COVID-19 created new challenges on a number of health care and financial fronts for all Americans, including many veterans in Maryland. That is why Senator Van Hollen supported the American Rescue Plan, which included funding for pandemic-related health care, debt forgiveness linked to health care costs, and job training while simultaneously reducing the claims backlog at the Veterans Benefits Administration and investing in the unique needs of the VA. Those resources, along with other federal relief, continue to play a critical role in helping our veterans and military families during this crisis.
Senator Van Hollen is also committed to eradicating veteran homelessness and to ensuring no veteran goes hungry. In the Senate, he has been a vocal advocate for the HUD-VASH program – an ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the VA to end veteran homelessness once and for all, nationwide. That program has already helped eliminate veteran homelessness in Montgomery County.
Senator Van Hollen is equally dedicated to ensuring that our military and their families have the support they need for their service. He has consistently supported pay raises for the military and was a cosponsor of the Military Hunger Prevention Act, which establishes a Basic Needs Allowance to help low-income members of the military and their families access affordable and healthy food options. Provisions from that legislation were included in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) so that no military family suffers from food insecurity. And following the death of Marine First Lieutenant Conor McDowell in a training accident, Senator Van Hollen has been working with members of the Maryland congressional delegation to examine the dangerous trend of training accidents in military vehicles and implement suggested reforms from the Government Accountability Office.
Maryland is home to key military installations, and Senator Van Hollen is working with colleagues to support those installations and the men and women who work there. Shortly after being sworn in as Senator for Maryland, Van Hollen successfully defended the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center at Fort Detrick and the Chemical Security Analysis Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground against the Trump Administration’s efforts to shut them down. He has advanced other campaigns to support cutting-edge energetics research – including at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head – and to invest in infrastructure projects at Fort Meade and Joint Base Andrews. In addition, Senator Van Hollen has pushed for improvements to on-base housing, including accountability for private providers, to ensure that our military personnel’s basic needs are met.
As we work to bolster support for our veterans, our military, and their families, we also have a duty to honor the heroes who have served and sacrificed for our freedom, but have been overlooked because of their race. Many World War I veterans weren’t considered for the Medal of Honor merely on the basis of their skin color, and Senator Van Hollen successfully led bipartisan colleagues in an effort to change that. In 2019, Senator Van Hollen’s legislation to issue an honorary promotion of Colonel (Ret.) Charles E. McGee of the United States Air Force passed the Senate unanimously and was later signed into law. Additionally, he has worked to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to the late World War II Corporal Waverly B. Woodson, Jr., a former resident of Clarksburg, Maryland, who saved dozens of lives during the D-Day invasion, and Senator Van Hollen continues that fight to this day.
Our military service members have been there for us; we need to be here for them. Senator Van Hollen is committed to supporting our troops, their families, and our military installations in Maryland while also honoring those who have served – and delivering for our veterans on the promise of quality health care, education, affordable housing, and the opportunity to start a business and succeed in the workforce.